Local residents are campaigning to save the tree, which they believe could easily be preserved if only Capita, which has prepared the plan on behalf of the council, could be persuaded to move the entrance to a new approach road by a distance of three or four feet.
Barnet Council’s application to develop a one-acre site next to Whitings Hill Primary School to provide 36 new homes is to be considered by the planning committee on Friday 3 July.
George Tranda, of Whitings Road, is one of the residents leading the campaign to save the oak, which has a large canopy and is a much-loved feature of the local landscape. Leaflets have been distributed to over 70 houses in Whitings Road and Mineral Close urging residents to lodge objections with the planning committee.
“Capita seem to have designed this new housing development for Barnet Council without giving any consideration to the importance of this enormous oak tree.
It is a really fine specimen, attracts woodpeckers, and could easily be saved.
“Trees are what makes High Barnet so special, and we have tried without success to get a tree preservation order on this oak, and on another 100-year-old oak nearer Whitings Hill School, but so far to no avail.”
The plan by the council is to construct 36 homes of which 60 per cent would be “affordable”; there would be 29 two- to three-storey houses and an apartment block of three- to four-storeys providing seven flats, plus 60 car parking spaces.
There are three existing entrances to the site, but under the plan prepared by Capita the entrance to the approach road has been placed immediately opposite the entrance to Mineral Close, and this would require the oak tree to be felled.
We think the planners should aim to preserve mature trees and especially an oak tree which is such an important feature of Whitings Road.
Mr Tranda says the planning documents state that the new entrance to the development has to be “directly opposite” the junction with Mineral Close. Therefore the oak tree would have to be removed and “unfortunately this cannot be avoided if a viable scheme is to be delivered”.
But Mr Tranda says the tree could be saved if the entrance was moved just a few feet towards Whitings Hill School. “I can see this might mean that a terrace of three new houses might have to be reduced to two, but perhaps an additional unit could be accommodated elsewhere on the site.
We think the planners should aim to preserve mature trees and especially an oak tree which is such an important feature of Whitings Road.”